|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v4.0||06.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET|
This year’s draft is starting to feel like it could be one of the most entertaining in years. Seriously, how could there be any more drama?
The old projected top pick, Joel Embiid, is injured and sliding down draft boards. We have no clue if Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker will be the No. 1 pick by the Cavaliers. We don’t even know that Cleveland will keep the first pick — teams like the Magic, Jazz and Celtics are rumored to have interest.
The Celtics also are rumored to be one of three finalists to acquire the No. 8 pick from the Kings. Then the Lakers seem pretty serious about trying to package Steve Nash and the No. 7 pick in an attempt to get young talent. Or, dare I say, the Lakers could be trying to clear cap space to make a play on Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
A mock draft seems almost pointless since we are expecting so many trades. Let’s not forget that Kevin Love‘s name will be one we hear in rumors a few times Thursday. Expect to see one of the wildest drafts in recent memory, but if there is less movement than expected, here’s how it could shake down.
1. Cavaliers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) — Embiid has been projected as the top pick for a while, even with his back issues. His broken foot is a whole different monster, though. Those two red flags will cause him to slip, and Parker is the best player in the draft right now. Wiggins will get a look here, especially if the Cavs are looking for a player to fit alongside LeBron (in their dream scenario). Owner Dan Gilbert wants to be very involved in the pick, and he reportedly likes Wiggins. That’s a risky strategy for Cleveland, so just take the sure thing in Parker — the Cavs really can’t afford to blow this one.
2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) — The Bucks now hold the easiest pick in the draft. Sit back and see what the team with the top pick does, then take the other top prospect. If Parker goes No. 1, then Wiggins goes to Milwaukee to play with a decent young core. The Bucks may prefer one to the other, but they have to be pleased either way it plays out.
3. 76ers, Dante Exum (Australia) — Philly ends up the biggest loser as a result of the Embiid injury. The Sixers would have been the team that ended up with the third top prospect that was passed over, but now they have a difficult choice to make. Embiid probably still is too risky this high in the draft, so Exum is the best overall talent available. Exum would either come in to be a backcourt-mate to Michael Carter-Williams or to take MCW’s job if the 76ers look to trade the Rookie of the Year.
4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) — With Exum off the board, and Orlando seeking a point guard, Smart makes sense with this pick. Of course, any of the big men on the board will be tempting to the Magic, but they have been most interested in Smart and Exum all year.
5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) — The Jazz already have a lot of young talent in their frontcourt. But if all the guards are taken early, and Utah does not trade up, Vonleh may be the most appealing piece. Vonleh is more capable of stepping away from the basket than the remaining bigs; that could be the determining factor.
6. Celtics, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) — One of the big questions of the draft becomes how far Embiid will slip. Danny Ainge will face a tough decision if he slips to No. 6, and in the end he won’t be able to pass up Embiid’s potential. If Ainge is unable to add an All-Star caliber player through a trade, Embiid is a fantastic fit for the future to play alongside Jared Sullinger in a rebuild scenario.
|If Celtics can’t land Kevin Love, then Rajon Rondo should be traded||06.24.14 at 11:59 am ET|
I recently wrote that Kevin Love is going to become a member of the Celtics on draft night. I still believe that. However, there’s a whole other question that needs to be addressed.
What does Danny Ainge do if he is unable to add an All-Star to the core he has right now? The answer is to trade Rajon Rondo.
There are two clear-cut directions in which the Celtics can head. They can trade their assets for a proven veteran, like Love, or they can break ties with Rondo, Jeff Green and their older players to start a youth movement. Most fans prefer to win now, but if that option is not available, selling off pieces to rebuild is the right move.
So what is a reasonable trade offer for Rondo?
If you remember from the start of the season, there was a pretty realistic offer rumored to be coming from Sacramento. If the trade offer remains something in the ballpark of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a draft pick (which would be No. 8 overall), that would be something Ainge considers. One note: Thomas is a restricted free agent, meaning Boston would be getting his rights. The C’s could re-sign him or let him walk for a higher offer.
Rondo has no interest in sticking around for a full rebuild, nor should he. Ainge knows this, and also is smart enough to know that there is no purpose to keep his star player on a roster that is not ready to win. The Celtics would then become one of the youngest teams in the league, with building blocks that have the potential to make them even younger.
Boston’s core would look something along these lines next season if Rondo were to be dealt to Sacramento (an easy example to use): The Celtics would roll out a lineup of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, McLemore, Thomas, Avery Bradley (a restricted free agent like Thomas) to go along with the players they draft at Nos. 6, 8 and 17. Keep in mind Ainge also would hold two first-round picks in the next two drafts.
No doubt there is risk involved with having so many young prospects on the roster. Some disappointing draft picks and developments are expected. At the same time, a couple of those players likely would become stars, while another couple should turn into good role players.
It’s nerve-racking to think about if you’re a Celtics fan, simply because there would be so much that would need to occur just to contend. But with other teams deep into trade talks for Love, this is a realistic alternative that everyone needs to be ready to accept. You know, just in case I’m wrong about Love.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.
|The official Celtics-centric Kevin Love timeline||06.19.14 at 9:02 pm ET|
The Celtics-centric story surrounding Kevin Love actually began before the All-Star break, but Boston’s Love affair reached “Fatal Attraction” levels when the three-time NBA All-Star spent three days in the city a few weeks back.
Since then, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and Celtics counterpart Danny Ainge have seemingly pulled the puppet strings masterfully, casting sources in a drama worthy of Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. The plot thickens every day, so here’s the storyboard updated through the latest episode.
- Feb. 16, 2014: Love declares, “Boston is a great city.”
- Feb. 19, 2014: The Celtics are in Love’s sights.
- Feb. 26, 2014: The Celtics are the odds-on favorite to acquire Love.
- May 18, 2014: The Celtics, Warriors, Lakers and Suns are making hard runs at Love.
- May 18, 2014: The Celtics are “the sleeper gathering momentum” for Love’s services.
- May 19, 2014: Love likes the Warriors and Bulls.
- May 26, 2014: The Kings would trade for Love without assurance he’d re-sign.
- May 26, 2014: Love wants out by July 1.
- May 30-June 1, 2014: Love spends a weekend in Boston.
- June 16, 2014: Love won’t be traded by July 1.
- June 2, 2014: The Timberwolves expect Love to remain in Minnesota.
- June 3, 2014: The T-Wolves aren’t interested in Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley or Kelly Olynyk.
- June 4, 2014: Sacramento “will trade anything but [DeMarcus] Cousins,” lead in Love sweepstakes.
- June 9, 2014: The Suns will offer Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and picks for Love.
- June 11, 2014: At a video game conference, Love will answer all questions except those related to the Celtics.
- June 17, 2014: A C’s offer of the No. 6 and 17 picks, future No. 1(s), Sullinger and Olynyk is the best offer.
- June 18, 2014: The Nuggets and Warriors have better offers than the Celtics.
- June 18, 2014: The Celtics are the “heavy favorites” to acquire Love.
- June 19, 2014: Denver’s offer of Kenneth Faried, No. 11 pick, Wilson Chandler and J.J. Hickson is better.
- June 19, 2014: The Warriors will include Klay Thompson in a deal for Love, becoming odds-on favorite.
- June 19, 2014: The Timberwolves aren’t prepared to trade Love — yet.
For more analysis, read about Ainge’s final play for Love.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Why Kevin Love deal has to happen soon||06.18.14 at 9:59 am ET|
As this year’s highly anticipated NBA draft creeps even closer, the Celtics continue to do their homework.
Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are busy students, having brought in several groups of prospects to get a better look at them in person. Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart have been the headliners so far, along with local products Noah Vonleh and Shabazz Napier. Clearly Ainge and Stevens are preparing for the draft as if they will be using both of their first-round draft picks.
That’s their job, after all. Which doesn’t necessarily mean Ainge is going to use the picks. He simply has to be ready to do so.
The Celtics were very busy last feel, holding workouts with Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas and Doug McDermott, essentially everyone they would consider with the No. 6 pick.
I still believe that Vonleh, Gordon and Smart are the heavy favorites if Boston keeps the pick, with Gordon being the choice right now given the way we have the draft board playing out.
But I continue to get strong signals that the Celtics are trying hard to use pick No. 6 and 17 along with future No. 1s and young players such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk to persuade the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade them Kevin Love. One source close to the Wolves said that while Flip Saunders does not want to trade Love, he realizes the team likely will lose him this summer and the package the Celtics are offering is probably the best he’s going to get. Given the strength of the draft, picks 6, 13 and 17 could land them three young starters to help them rebuild their roster quickly.
As Ford implies, a trade along these lines not only makes sense for both sides, but Boston has to be considered the team with the most to offer.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Could Carmelo Anthony be a fit with Celtics?||06.06.14 at 12:10 pm ET|
In case you missed it, Kevin Love pretty much became a member of the Celtics this past weekend. Ben Rohrbach filled us in on the worst-kept secret in Boston, as Love was essentially a public attraction all weekend long.
Operating under the assumption that Love indeed ends up in Boston, the search for the third member of the next ‘Big Three’ already is underway. And unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re aware that Carmelo Anthony is the hot name to join forces with Love and Rajon Rondo and generate the next great era of Celtics basketball.
The problem is that many of us don’t like Melo as a team player, myself included. Despite his unique talent, he can be selfish and tends to have tunnel vision toward scoring the ball, blocking out the rest of the intangibles that result in … what’s the word I’m looing for? Oh yeah, winning.
So obviously the Celtics have no reason to add a player like that to their roster, right? Wrong. There is no alternative out there to Anthony, so Danny Ainge has to take what he can get. From there, the goal is to make Anthony fit in Boston, and here’s how you do it.
Melo clearly would be relied upon to score in Boston, it’s the most natural part of his game. But guess what? Anthony also is a good rebounder and passer who has the tools be a good defender. Similar to Paul Pierce, bringing those skills out of him is what could transform Anthony into a winning player late in his career.
|Irish Coffee: The Celtics’ Carmelo Anthony conundrum||06.04.14 at 12:55 pm ET|
As a disclaimer, “an insider at RealGM.com” isn’t a source worth lending any credence, so let’s take Bert A. Ramirez’s bizarre rumor bringing both Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony to Boston with enough salt to warrant Seabass spitting in your burger, but we might as well examine whether it’s even possible under the NBA salary cap.
Using the Bill Simmons trade proposal as a jumping off point (both 2014 picks, both 2015 picks, Jared Sullinger, Keith Bogans and Brandon Bass for Love), here is the imaginary Celtics salary structure for 2014-15.
Kevin Love: $15.7M
Rajon Rondo: $12.9M
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Avery Bradley: $6.3M (RFA hold)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Vitor Faverani: $2.0M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.0M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
Chris Babb: $0.8M
That number exceeds the projected salary cap of $63.2 million, so the Celtics could not sign Anthony, even if he opts out, relinquishing an additional $33.2 million in potential guaranteed money from the Knicks. In this scenario, the Celtics would have to clear $23.8 million off the books in order to give Melo the maximum contract of four years and $95.9 million (2014-15: $22.5M; 2015-16: $23.5M; 2016-17: $24.5M; 2017-18: $25.5M). Here goes.
|Chris Mannix on MFB: ‘Kevin [Love] knew exactly what he was doing when he went to Boston’||06.03.14 at 12:58 pm ET|
Love’s name has sparked trade rumors since the power forward made it clear that he does not plan to re-sign with Minnesota after next season. The Celtics are one of those teams that appear to be interested, which is why Mannix said it’s no coincidence he was spotted in Boston this past weekend.
“I think it’s worth getting excited about,” Mannix said. “I think that Kevin knew exactly what he was doing when he went to Boston. I grew up there, I love the town, but nobody vacations in Boston this time of year. The guy just finished a long season, why wouldn’t he go home to Washington state or go back to Southern California to take a break? I think there was a reason for that trip.
“Look, he’s made it clear through his representatives to Minnesota that he has no intentions of re-signing there after next season. They’re going to opt out of the contract and they’re going to look elsewhere for better opportunities. … I don’t think it happens before the draft, but sometime this offseason I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin Love is moved.”
Mannix said he doesn’t expect Love to be dealt before the draft due to “salary cap ramifications.” But, he said Love’s trip to Boston was meant to “put a little more pressure on Minnesota to make a move.”
“I think there’s a subliminal message there. He’s putting it right in Flip Saunders‘ face,” Mannix said. “Look, Flip reacted to it somewhat negatively. … I don’t think they were entirely pleased with Kevin’s trip to Boston, the fanfare that it received. I guess if he wanted to he kind of could’ve flown under the radar, but he was at moments pause taking pictures with people, showing up at Red Sox games, taking a picture with Rajon Rondo, bumping into Rajon Rondo in the stadium. What are the odds that was a coincidence?” Read the rest of this entry »
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